The Interspecies Competition Library

  • Haemophilus influenzae vs. streptococcus pneumoniae

This study says…

An inverse correlation between colonization of the human nasopharynx by Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae, both common upper respiratory pathogens, has been reported. Studies were undertaken to determine if either of these organisms produces substances which inhibit growth of the other. Culture supernatants from S. pneumoniae inhibited growth of H. influenzae, whereas culture supernatants from H. influenzae had no effect on the growth of S. pneumoniae. Moreover, coculture of S. pneumoniae and H. influenzae led to a rapid decrease in viable counts of H. influenzae. The addition of purified catalase prevented killing of H. influenzae in coculture experiments, suggesting that hydrogen peroxide may be responsible for this bactericidal activity. H. influenzae was killed by concentrations of hydrogen peroxide similar to that produced by S. pneumoniae.

The results of clinical studies that surveyed the etiologic agents in cases of otitis media in children and chronic bronchitis in adults showed that Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae are the most prevalent bacterial pathogens (14, 23). The frequency with which these two species are isolated from the same specimen, however, is significantly less than would be predicted based on their relative prevalence (25, 30). This suggests that there may be inhibitory effects of one species on the other in vivo.

And this one concludes…

Clinical observations about S. pneumoniae and H. influenzae, however, point out the need to understand the potential interactions of microorganisms, since manipulation of the human microflora may lead to unanticipated problems.

This one says…

In a mouse model, strains of both Haemophilus influenzae and Streptococcus pneumoniae efficiently colonize the nasal mucosa when tested individually. In contrast, following co-inoculation, H. influenzae rapidly and completely outcompetes S. pneumoniae. This competitive effect is dependent on the local responses from the host in the form of a specific type of white blood cell (neutrophil) that acts to engulf and kill microorganisms that have been labeled by proteins that bind to microbial surfaces (complement). The results of this study show that recognition of microbial products from one species may activate inflammatory responses that promote the clearance of another competing species. This study also demonstrates how manipulations such as antibiotics or vaccines, which are meant to diminish the presence of a single pathogen, may inadvertently alter the competitive interactions of complex microbial communities.


  • Streptococcus pneumoniae vs. staphylococcus aureus

This study concludes:

Streptococcus pneumoniae carriage, specifically of vaccine-type strains, is negatively associated with S aureus carriage in children. The implications of these findings in the pneumococcal vaccine era require further investigation.

This one says:

“A trial with a 7-valent pneumococcal-conjugate vaccine in children with recurrent acute otitis media showed a shift in pneumococcal colonisation towards non-vaccine serotypes and an increase in Staphylococcus aureus-related acute otitis media after vaccination”

“These findings suggest a natural competition between colonisation with vaccine-type pneumococci and S aureus, which might explain the increase in S aureus-related otitis media after vaccination. “

The possible mechanism is described here:

The bactericidal activity of Streptococcus pneumoniae toward Staphylococcus aureus is mediated by hydrogen peroxide. Catalase eliminated this activity. Pneumococci grown anaerobically or genetically lacking pyruvate oxidase (SpxB) were not bactericidal, nor were nonpneumococcal streptococci. These results provide a possible mechanistic explanation for the interspecies interference observed in epidemiologic studies.

And this study says:

If the association is causal and acquisition of S. pneumoniae eradicates S. aureus carriage, then use of pneumococcal vaccines may eliminate the “protective” effect of S. pneumoniae against S. aureus carriage and an increase in S. aureus carriage will follow. Increased S. aureus otitis media has been observed among vaccinees in a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine randomized trial (23). Whether the current increase in severe community-acquired S. aureus infections, including methicillin-resistant S. aureus (6), is partially caused by the recent introduction of the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine is yet to be determined.

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